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  • FIRST POST
    • mnt99york
    • By mnt99york 18th Oct 16, 11:36 PM
    • 128Posts
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    mnt99york
    Problem with electric bills
    • #1
    • 18th Oct 16, 11:36 PM
    Problem with electric bills 18th Oct 16 at 11:36 PM
    Hi

    Hope people can possibly offer me some advice on this?

    In August 2015 I moved into a rented flat (my first flat on my own), there was a welcome pack from Spark energy, so I thought I may as well go with them.

    I signed up online, and it said the average monthly cost of electric for a 1 bed / 2 room flat like mine was £40 per month. Fine I thought, and I set up a direct debit for £45 a month, just to be safe. It said we will contact you if you need to increase your payments.

    A year passed and I hadn't heard anything, so had assumed all was well. Recently I logged into my account to see if I'd built up any credit on my account - and although I could see the £45 payment each month, there were no bills on my account, and it was showing I was nearly £600 in credit!

    I rang them and they said there'd been an error, and for some reason they hadn't been applying any bills to my account. I had been supplying regular meter readings when requested though. The guy I spoke to asked me to go get a current meter reading, which I did, and he put me on hold for a while, then came back on and told me I was actually £680 in arrears?!

    I asked him to explain how this could be possible given that their website says the average cost should be £40 a month? He asked me to get the second reading from the meter (I had no idea there were 2, there is only space for entering 1 online) and when I gave him this he recalculated my arrears at £330.

    He said I needed to up my payments to £88 per month over 18 months to clear my debt, which I wasn't particularly happy about, but I decided to accept that, and write in to complain about how my account has been handled - the thing I was most annoyed with was that had they told me earlier I was running up arrears as promised I would have reduced my energy consumption accordingly!

    I wrote in to complain about 2 weeks ago but have heard nothing in response, but tonight I got an email which completely ignores the £88 per month agreement, and says that as of 1st November my direct debit will increase from £45 to £205!

    Now, I absolutely can't afford to pay that, it's telling me to ring them, but the email came after they'd closed tonight, so I'll have to do it in the morning, but I'm flying to Switzerland for 4 days at lunchtime, and I really want to get this sorted before they try and take £205 from my account!

    Has anyone any advice or ever been in a similar scenario? Do I have a legitimate argument in that they have broken their promise to keep me informed of any arrears, so they should bear some responsibility for the arrears?
Page 1
    • Cardew
    • By Cardew 19th Oct 16, 12:00 AM
    • 26,059 Posts
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    Cardew
    • #2
    • 19th Oct 16, 12:00 AM
    • #2
    • 19th Oct 16, 12:00 AM
    They haven't given you any 'promise'. Your DD was just an estimate.

    However as they haven't sent you a bill, the cannot bill you for more than 12 months from the date of the first bill under the back-billing provision. Just tell them you are not going to pay the £205 until the matter is sorted, and if they do take £205 tell your bank to refund it under the Direct Debit guarantee.

    This will run and run.
    • mnt99york
    • By mnt99york 19th Oct 16, 12:18 AM
    • 128 Posts
    • 34 Thanks
    mnt99york
    • #3
    • 19th Oct 16, 12:18 AM
    • #3
    • 19th Oct 16, 12:18 AM
    They haven't given you any 'promise'. Your DD was just an estimate.

    However as they haven't sent you a bill, the cannot bill you for more than 12 months from the date of the first bill under the back-billing provision. Just tell them you are not going to pay the £205 until the matter is sorted, and if they do take £205 tell your bank to refund it under the Direct Debit guarantee.

    This will run and run.
    Originally posted by Cardew
    I'm aware it was just an estimate, and I was prepared for it to increase. The "promise" they make - and they use that exact word on their website - is to keep me informed, which they didn't do, and if they had, then I wouldn't have run up these arrears.

    They won't be able to take £205 as I don't have that money in my account, so if they do try, then I'll get a bounced DD fee from my bank, so I suspect I may have to cancel the DD.

    I have a feeling this isn't going to get sorted in the morning as I'm not going to have a lot of time before I have to leave for my flight, so it's going to be next week now before I can expect to get any sort of answer.
    • Robin9
    • By Robin9 19th Oct 16, 5:00 AM
    • 1,083 Posts
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    Robin9
    • #4
    • 19th Oct 16, 5:00 AM
    • #4
    • 19th Oct 16, 5:00 AM
    Can you do your own sums to work out what you owe using the readings you have supplied adding the standing charge and VAT ?
    • House Martin
    • By House Martin 19th Oct 16, 7:30 AM
    • 80 Posts
    • 44 Thanks
    House Martin
    • #5
    • 19th Oct 16, 7:30 AM
    • #5
    • 19th Oct 16, 7:30 AM
    Spark Energy supply many flats ( through commissions with letting agents ) and the modern ones are usually Eco 7 meters. Op, you have to go to your meter(make sure it is your meter, ) and understand how it works with its three readings.night/day and total. Night rate should be coming on around midnight and going off (with a click on the meter sometimes ) around 7 am . Once you have established the correct reading for night rate you can then get the day rate and the total of the two. It sounds like Spark have billed the two rates in reverse and probably doubled the bill.
    Also you would not have submitted a correct start reading to begin with , and most likely the outgoing occupier never submitted a correct end reading so Spark are just having a wild guess at the actual bill. Its not their fault that occupiers do not understand the meters
    Last edited by House Martin; 19-10-2016 at 7:33 AM. Reason: mistake
    • mnt99york
    • By mnt99york 19th Oct 16, 10:51 AM
    • 128 Posts
    • 34 Thanks
    mnt99york
    • #6
    • 19th Oct 16, 10:51 AM
    • #6
    • 19th Oct 16, 10:51 AM
    I rang them this morning and they said I should actually be paying £63 per month which sounds about reasonable.

    They've changed my DD from £205 to £88 a month to pay back the arrears.

    She didn't make any sense to me though, when I asked why no bills had been generated for my account until I rung up a few weeks ago, and why they hadn't kept their promise to keep me informed of any need to increase my DD, she said they wouldn't have any reason to generate bills as I had never called them until September this year, which sounds bizarre to me - as I said to her, what if I never called them? Would they have never generated a bill at all?

    She said they have kept me informed, they have emailed me last night! Well that's hardly keeping me informed is it, waiting over a year until significant arrears have built up!
    • Cardew
    • By Cardew 19th Oct 16, 11:19 AM
    • 26,059 Posts
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    Cardew
    • #7
    • 19th Oct 16, 11:19 AM
    • #7
    • 19th Oct 16, 11:19 AM
    As said earlier, as you set up an account and were paying a DD, and have not received a bill, you will be covered by the back-billing provision of the Code for accurate bills. See:

    http://www.energy-uk.org.uk/customers/energy-industry-codes/code-of-practice-for-accurate-bills.html

    In essence they cannot back-bill more than 12 months from the time you got your first bill.

    I am not sure if Spark energy have signed up to this code or have a similar provision. If not it is a case to take to the Ombudsman if Spark don't deal with your complaint to your satisfaction.
    • mnt99york
    • By mnt99york 19th Oct 16, 11:28 AM
    • 128 Posts
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    mnt99york
    • #8
    • 19th Oct 16, 11:28 AM
    • #8
    • 19th Oct 16, 11:28 AM
    Not sure that's going to make that much difference... it's 13 months, the cost more than 12 months old won't be worth bothering with.

    I'm not sure if I'm not explaining myself well here, but my objection is *not* paying for the electricity I have used - if my DDs had to increase, then so be it. My objection is that they specifically *promise* to keep your account up to date and on track, which they have failed to do - and if they had, I would have known I was using too much electric and would've cut down. Their failure to keep the promise they made has *directly* led to extra costs for me.
    • dogshome
    • By dogshome 19th Oct 16, 11:29 AM
    • 2,655 Posts
    • 1,331 Thanks
    dogshome
    • #9
    • 19th Oct 16, 11:29 AM
    • #9
    • 19th Oct 16, 11:29 AM
    From your post it seems that whilst you have had conversations with, and Emails from Spark, to date you have not had an actual Bill - Showing Start date/meter read, End date/meter read and tariff details

    Cardew pointed up the Back-billing Agreement, this prohibits a supplier who has failed to send bills for a period of over 12 months, from billing anything prior to the last 12 months.

    The 12 month period runs back from the date that they did manage to produce a bill - If you have not had bills from Spark and they send you one today, they cannot charge for anything supplied before 20th October 2015.
    • mnt99york
    • By mnt99york 19th Oct 16, 11:38 AM
    • 128 Posts
    • 34 Thanks
    mnt99york
    My first bill is dated 3rd October 2016, and is for electric from 27th August 2015, so in fact it may be worth looking into what you say.

    Annoyingly I'm really hyped up about it at the moment, but there's no point doing anything now until next week as I'm away.
    • datlex
    • By datlex 23rd Oct 16, 10:58 AM
    • 1,059 Posts
    • 911 Thanks
    datlex
    OP I am assuming that given the high original bills you had that you don't have gas central heating. I am in a 1 bedroom flat here and pay £23 a month. £63 a month is excessive. You might want to look at what your usage is.
    • mnt99york
    • By mnt99york 22nd Nov 16, 10:30 PM
    • 128 Posts
    • 34 Thanks
    mnt99york
    Update on this, if anyone is interested.

    1. The advice on the "code of conduct" saying they couldn't charge for electricty more than 12 months old was really good - they applied a credit of £115.08 to my account as a result of me mentioning this.

    2. They offered a 20% discount on the arrears of £74.69, as a result of their failure to keep track of my account and inform me I was building up arrears, which I thought was fair enough.

    3. I am still not very satisifed that the charges are correct. They have applied 3 monthly statements to my account so that I can see how much I have been using each month, and they don't make any sense at all. The average cost is around £80 a month, and is slightly more in the summer than in winter! The first monthly bill they've raised is for this October for £53, and I've been using the heating for the first time in 6 months in October.

    I pointed this out and they said "sorry - it looks like the meter readings have been applied wrongly to your account - please bear with us while we review the situation".
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